Shopping for Antiques and Identifying Their Value

When going shopping for antiques, it's a good idea to bring along a notebook with room dimensions, pictures and fabric swatches.
the first thing to look at is the wood

the first thing to look at is the wood

Related To:

  1. Furniture
  2. Decorating

Shopping for Antiques

The first tip to remember is to narrow the search to a single item to help keep from getting sidetracked.

Take along room dimensions, a tape measure, room color chips and fabric swatches. Examine items closely. Wiggle the item to make sure it's sturdy. If shopping for chairs, sit in them to get the feel and determine their sturdiness.

Always invest time in looking before buying. Browsing through antiques stores is one of the best ways to learn, because shoppers can examine items closely and compare different pieces and prices.

Antique Value

Antiques expert Richard Norton says furniture can be read like a book. Follow these steps to help reveal the authenticity of an antique walnut commode.

The first thing Richard looks at is wood. In this case the wood is walnut, which was the favorite high-end choice of the time. Slightly darker wood around the mounted hardware -- the original walnut that hasn't faded -- indicates that the metal hardware is all original. At the base of the chest the feet are slightly rounded, showing years of gentle wear. A quick look at the drawer sides reveals dovetailing that all reads the same way, indicating that the same pair of hands did all the work.

This piece is unusual because it is signed by the maker. The maker put his signature on the piece because a tax was collected on furniture, and the signature proves that the tax was paid. This is a very good way to date a piece and document the maker. The top is hand-worked marble. Running a finger along the curve of the beveled edge reveals a smooth finish on the front and sides of the piece and a rough edge at the back. A new piece, with a machine finish, would have a smooth edge all the way around.

Next Up

Tips on Distinguishing a True Antique From a Reproduction

Follow these tips on how to determine if a piece of furniture is really an antique.

Using Vintage Furniture in the Bathroom

Whether reproduction or the real thing, antique vanities and cabinets give your bathroom a truly unique look.

The Basics on Hand-Rubbed Finishes

Follow these tips on applying hand-rubbed finishes to wood.

What to Look for When Buying Old Furniture

Learn how to evaluate the age and quality of your attic treasure or flea-market find.

Cleaning Antiques

An aged appearance can give a piece personality, but too many scratches can detract from the furniture's appearance. Follow these simple tips to clean antique finishes.

Cheap + Easy DIY Ideas for Dreary Dorm Rooms

Real college students offer their best ideas for planning your fall dorm decor.

Creative Genius: Doorman Designs

New Orleans funkiness births an artisan who turns old wood into heirloom-worthy furniture.

Lighting Guide

Essentials of a well-lit space

10 Genius Showhouse Ideas

The 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens is a DIY design-idea bonanza.

Kitchen Lighting: Brilliance on a Budget

These tips for low-cost kitchen lighting are kind to your wallet and keep your kitchen shining in style.

On TV

Stone Age

7am | 6c

Extra Yardage

7:30am | 6:30c

Miami Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Miami Flip

9am | 8c

Miami Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Miami Flip

10am | 9c

Miami Flip

10:30am | 9:30c

Yard Crashers

7:30pm | 6:30c
Tonight
Tonight

Yard Crashers

8pm | 7c

Yard Crashers

8:30pm | 7:30c

Yard Crashers

9:30pm | 8:30c

Yard Crashers

10pm | 9c

Yard Crashers

10:30pm | 9:30c

Yard Crashers

11pm | 10c

Yard Crashers

11:30pm | 10:30c

Yard Crashers

12am | 11c

Yard Crashers

12:30am | 11:30c

Yard Crashers

1am | 12c

Yard Crashers

1:30am | 12:30c

Yard Crashers

2:30am | 1:30c

Yard Crashers

3:30am | 2:30c

Stories We're Following

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Discover Made + Remade

See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.

Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.